Three countries in one – that’s how you could describe Ecuador, whose varied landscapes in a relatively small area range from the Pacific beaches in the west, over the high mountains of the Andes to the tropical rainforest of the Oriente.
Official name: Republic of Ecuador
Area: 283.560 km²
Residents: 17.5 million
Growth of population: 1.69%
Seat of government: Quito
Official language: Spanish
Languages for “intercultural relationships”: Kichwa, Shuar
As a country located in northwestern part of South America according to areacodesexplorer, Ecuador owes its name to the equator line, which runs about 15 kilometers north of the capital Quito and was measured there by a French expedition in 1736. Due to this geographical peculiarity, Ecuador is “en la mitad del mundo”, in the “middle of the world”. 17.4 million people live in an area of 283,560 square kilometers, which makes Ecuador slightly larger than Great Britain. The state extends from the Pacific coast 600 kilometers inland to the Amazonian tributaries Rio Napo and Rio Putumayo. The world-famous ones also belong to the state territory – Galapagos Islands, which are 965 kilometers off the mainland and extend over an area of 8,000 km². Colombia borders Ecuador to the north, Peru to the south and east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The long controversial political affiliation of large parts of the southeastern Amazon rainforest on the border with Peru was finally settled in October 1998 with the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries. Geographically, topographically, climatically and ethnically, Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries on earth. Alexander von Humboldt already knew that there is nowhere else on earth comparable biodiversity.
Protection of flora and fauna
Although Ecuador is a comparatively small country, it is one of the countries with the world’s most biodiverse flora and fauna. In Ecuador, for example, there are more than 20,000 plant species (compared to 17,000 in all of North America) and around 1,500 bird species (and thus twice as many as on the European continent). One reason for Ecuador’s pronounced biodiversity is the large number of different habitats, which extend from the tropical rainforest to the high Andes regions to the coastal zone. In order to protect the unique ecosystems, several national parks and nature reserves have been established, which together make up around 10% of the land area of Ecuador. The national parks (especially the Sangay National Park which has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site) have practically no tourist infrastructure; There are usually just as few hotels or campsites as museums or information centers.
In a worldwide unique initiative supported by the United Nations, President Correa has been campaigning since 2007 for his plan to have the industrialized countries pay for not drilling oil in the Yasuni National Park in the interests of climate protection. Three oil fields in the national park should be spared any development, provided that the international community compensates Ecuador for the lack of income. The oil deposits in Yasuniare estimated at 850 million barrels or 20 percent of the total oil reserves of Ecuador. In August 2013, however, Correa declared the plan a failure. At the same time, the President submitted an application to the National Assembly in Quito for the development of oil deposits in the Yasuní National Park, which in October 2013 approved this project with an overwhelming majority. Oil production began in spring 2016.
The Ecotourism who wants to make visitors of Ecuador in a gentle way with the natural diversity of the country trusts, has become a successful strategy developed and important source of income of the Ecuadorian economy. Since 2008, the “rights” of nature have even been anchored in the constitution.
The special attention of the national and international public has always been directed to the Galapagos Islands. Although the archipelago was declared a national park in 1934 and UNESCO’s “Heritage of Humanity ” in 1979, the archipelago’s unique fauna is still latently threatened. Detailed information, the latest news and more than 200 publications – mostly scientific articles – about the archipelago can be found on the website of the Charles Darwin Foundation. The unique natural paradise is also threatened by tourism: the Galapagos Islands are suffering from the growing range of cruises. In 1970, only 5,000 tourists visited the islands 2018 already 276,000. In June 2015 there were protests on the islands against the plans of the then government to open the Galapagos more to foreign investment. In 2007, Unesco rated the Galapagos National Park as a threatened world natural heritage. Due to the corona-related lockdown in Ecuador, which meant that the islands could not be visited until August 2020 and tourism has only been moderate since then, the flora and fauna of the natural paradise have recently been able to recover. Also in August 2020 – but not related to the corona situation – marine researchers discovered 30 new animal species in the deep sea off the Galapagos Islands.